New Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles may be about to add a new position in the team’s front office.
Poles is set to meet with Philadelphia Eagles director of player personnel Ian Cunningham for a “high-ranking front office job,” as first reported by Inside the Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan of NBC Sports.
Cunningham got his start with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 as a player personnel assistant and served as a scout in Baltimore until 2017, when he was hired by the Eagles to be their next director of college scouting. Philly won Super Bowl 52 after his first season with the team, and he was promoted to assistant director of player personnel in 2018 before getting his current title. He also won a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2013.
NFL insider Albert Breer reported on Jan. 28 that Cunningham would be traveling to Chicago that day, with the expectation he would be interviewing to be Poles’ No. 2. The Bears don’t have an assistant GM, so the team would be adding a title if Cunningham does come aboard.
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Where Does This Leave Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips?
There have been rumors for months that Bears team President and CEO Ted Phillips could retire in a few years. Adam Jahns of The Athletic reported in December 2021 that Phillips could stick around largely to assist with the team’s acquisition of the Arlington Heights property. Jahns also suggested Phillips could handle the fiscal side of things while removing himself from football operations entirely:
Retirement is thought to be on the table in the near future for Phillips, who was promoted to his current position in 1999. Phillips’ potential departure could be the driving force behind changing how the Bears function. But there is a new wrinkle, albeit an extremely important one, on the table for McCaskey: the Bears’ potential move to Arlington Heights and the building of a new stadium. The Bears arguably need Phillips for what’s next for their franchise as a business, even if he shifts into an advisory role. Phillips could also temporarily remain in charge of the Bears’ business operations while leaving the football side.
While the team hasn’t announced a new role for Phillips, the addition of Cunningham could mean a reduced role is coming.
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Addition of Cunningham Also Signals Emphasis on Offensive Line
Cunningham, like Poles, is a former offensive lineman. He played at the University of Virginia from 2003-2007, and many analysts, including PFF’s Brad Spielberger, think there will now be a strong emphasis on shoring up a Bears offensive line that led the league in sacks allowed last season (58).
Mosher also reported there was a “90 to 95 percent chance” Cunningham would be joining Poles in Chicago, so all signs point to this happening. Cunningham and Poles haven’t worked together in the NFL, but had gotten to know each other in scouting circles, Mosher added. It looks like they’re about to officially team up for the first time.